Honeywell says that it will release the world’s most powerful commercial quantum computer by mid-2020. The US-based manufacturer of scientific and commercial equipment says that the device is based on trapped ions, which is a different technology than that being pursued by most other commercial developers including Google and IBM. Honeywell researchers have published details of a smaller version of the machine that has a “quantum volume” of 16 and say that it should be straightforward to scale this up to 64.
The fundamental requirement for quantum computation is a set of quantum bits (qubits) that can interact to form quantum logic gates that process quantum information. In principle, quantum computers can perform certain computational task much faster than conventional computers. However, qubits tend to be very fragile so creating practical quantum computers is a significant scientific and technological challenge.
Some experts use the concept of “quantum volume” as a figure of merit for a quantum computer. Developed at IBM, it considers the number of qubits, the degree of connectivity between qubits and the qubits’ coherence times (how long they survive). So far, IBM has created a system with a quantum volume of 32, but Honeywell says it can do better.